There is reportedly "mounting chatter" that the Houston Texans could trade quarterback Deshaun Watson in the coming days.
According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, the Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins are the two finalists for Watson. Florio noted that the Denver Broncos and Philadelphia Eagles have been linked to Watson as well.
In a follow-up report, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports said the Panthers are not pursuing Watson "at this time" but that their stance could change pending the results of lawsuits against Watson.
Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports later reported that the Dolphins have emerged as the front-runners because Watson has the right to approve his trade destination.
Robinson noted that the Texans have asked for three first-round picks and two second-round picks but that teams have asked for protections on the draft picks should Watson get suspended or criminally prosecuted.
Watson reportedly requested a trade in January, and in March and April he was accused of sexual assault or sexual misconduct by multiple women.
Armando Salguero of OutKick reported Saturday that Watson wants to be dealt to Miami, though he would be open to playing for Carolina. Salguero added Houston general manager Nick Caserio has "spoken multiple times" to both of those clubs. However, a trade is reportedly not imminent.
Twenty-four women have said Watson sexually assaulted or harassed them during massage sessions, and 22 have filed civil lawsuits. Ten criminal complaints, including two by women who have not filed lawsuits, have also been lodged.
There is a huge risk associated with acquiring Watson since he could be suspended if he is found to have violated the NFL's personal conduct policy. Also, if convicted of any of the criminal complaints filed against him, he could face jail time.
No criminal charges have been filed. The earliest Watson will be deposed in the civil cases is February.
Florio noted that because of the risk attached to Watson, it may be difficult for Houston to receive its asking price of "three first-round picks and more." Florio theorized that the Texans could take what they can get or tie the compensation to how many games Watson plays in the coming years.
Watson was the No. 12 pick in the 2017 draft and has been one of the NFL's best quarterbacks since entering the league.
The 25-year-old has been named to the Pro Bowl three times and reached the playoffs twice. Houston went just 4-12 last season, but Watson completed 70.2 percent of his passes for a league-leading 4,823 yards to go along with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Watson also rushed for 444 yards and three scores.
The Panthers traded for former New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold in April, but the 2018 No. 3 pick is just 13-25 as a starter and has thrown 45 touchdown passes to 39 interceptions.
Florio wrote that Panthers owner David Tepper's desire to land a franchise quarterback could be a reason for Carolina's pursuit of Watson.
Miami would perhaps be taking a bigger risk in trading for Watson since it used the No. 5 pick in the 2020 draft on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
It remains to be seen if Tagovailoa can become a franchise quarterback, but as a rookie he completed 64.1 percent of his passes for 1,814 yards and 11 touchdowns with five interceptions in 10 games.
Tua went 6-3 as a starter, and the 10-6 Dolphins fell one win short of a playoff berth after going 5-11 the previous season.
Watson would represent an upgrade over both Darnold and Tagovailoa, but Carolina or Miami would assume plenty of risk by trading for him.